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PlayStation (Games) Graphics Games

The Technical Difficulty In Porting a PS3 Game To the PS4 152

An anonymous reader writes "The Last of Us was one of the last major projects for the PlayStation 3. The code optimization done by development studio Naughty Dog was a real technical achievement — making graphics look modern and impressive on a 7-year-old piece of hardware. Now, they're in the process of porting it to the much more capable PS4, which will end up being a technical accomplishment in its own right. Creative director Neil Druckmann said, 'Just getting an image onscreen, even an inferior one with the shadows broken, lighting broken and with it crashing every 30 seconds that took a long time. These engineers are some of the best in the industry and they optimized the game so much for the PS3's SPUs specifically. It was optimized on a binary level, but after shifting those things over [to PS4] you have to go back to the high level, make sure the [game] systems are intact, and optimize it again. I can't describe how difficult a task that is. And once it's running well, you're running the [versions] side by side to make sure you didn't screw something up in the process, like physics being slightly off, which throws the game off, or lighting being shifted and all of a sudden it's a drastically different look. That's not 'improved' any more; that's different. We want to stay faithful while being better.'"
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The Technical Difficulty In Porting a PS3 Game To the PS4

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  • by Stickiler ( 2767941 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @03:39AM (#47030231)
    The main problem with this argument is that The Last of Us was PS3 exclusive, and it was PS3 exclusive from the start, so there's no need to write the code for portability(which inherently means the game will run worse, because you can't use platform specific optimisations). It was only when the PS4 came out the development team considered possibly porting the game, and even then it was never a guaranteed thing. The discussion of whether the game game SHOULD have been ported to other platforms is a different argument altogether. It was only because the game was tuned directly for the PS3 platform that allowed the game to look and play as well as it did.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 18, 2014 @03:57AM (#47030277)

    The main problem with this argument is that The Last of Us was PS3 exclusive, and it was PS3 exclusive from the start, so there's no need to write the code for portability.

    "PS3 exclusive" is a marketing term. YOU ALWAYS WRITE PORTABLE CODE and then you optimize specific path IF AND WHERE NEEDED.

    The down-moded AC is right. It's was their own fault and they are awful programmers.

  • by _Shad0w_ ( 127912 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @04:50AM (#47030349)

    Alternatively they're really good programmers who got explicitly told "make this run like shit off a shovel and don't worry about portability - this will only ever be on PS3". You can say "but we should really write portable code", but if SMT still tell you to ignore portability then you're left with either doing what you're told or quitting.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 18, 2014 @05:41AM (#47030441)

    Is it a good practice for cases like these? I argue not.

    Let's say that we do create a reference version, then optimize. Since we are intending to push the hardware to its maximum, we have to assume that we will hit the occasional performance wall. How do we deal with that? We change the behavior of the program to fit within the limitations. This means that our definition of correct behavior has changed and the reference version is no longer correct. So, we update our reference version to match the version we plan to publish. This involves backporting the changes, then carefully testing to verify that the behavior is exactly the same as in the optimized version.

    We're left with the question: Why do we call it a reference version if it is derived from the version that is supposedly derived from it?

    The optimized version is the real reference version. The "reference" version is really just a port to a hypothetical platform. And, rather than just porting the final version, we are porting every bit of wasted effort along the way.

    We get all the cost of the PS3 to PS4 port, dragged out over the whole path of development, with no target platform to sell it on. Sure, porting "reference" to PS4 will be cheaper than PS3 to PS4; however, PS3 to reference to PS4 will be much more expensive than directly porting PS3 to PS4.

    So, best case, we spend more money to save time porting to a platform we never intended to support. Worst case, we spend a lot of money on a port that doesn't go anywhere. It's a lose-lose.

  • Re:PS4 hardware (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Sunday May 18, 2014 @12:19PM (#47032143) Homepage Journal

    Because the PS3's hardware was stupid.

    No, it was not.

    Yes, yes it was. I didn't argue that cell had no purpose, but it was stupid to use it for gaming. And sadly, cell was only ever widely used in scientific computing in PS3s, because the only other way to get it was madly overpriced. Then Sony removed OtherOS and the supply of PS3s usable for scientific computing was constrained, although by that time the cell had been far surpassed.

    Sony gained dominance in part because development for the Playstation was simpler than development for the Saturn or the Jaguar. Microsoft gained a foothold in part because development for the PS2 was a super bitch. Then Sony went on to make another console for which development was difficult, and the 360 became the dominant console of its generation. Microsoft probably wouldn't even be in gaming today if Sony had adopted a more conservative architecture for the PS3. It took them until the PS4 to figure that out, and they did indeed finally manage it — by making the same console Microsoft was making, or vice versa.

"Atomic batteries to power, turbines to speed." -- Robin, The Boy Wonder